07 March 2014

The time is now

Design by Wiksten // Image via Spoonflower

At the start of 2014, I wrote a List Of Things. 'Revamp blog' was about 3/4 of the way down and added with an extra sprinkling of 'that'd be nice, manana, manana'. But here we are, it is March and I cannot wait any longer to overhaul this space. If you've been with me since the beginnings of this blogging journey, you'll have noticed there's not a whole of sewing for 'bebe's happening these days. Just know my boys are clothed. Also know, I've been wrestling with this long and hard, feeling like changing my content from kid sewing to lady sewing was somehow a big bloggy no no. I've come to realise that creativity is fluid and if you give yourself over to it and don't get bogged down in the 'should sews', it makes sense that you'll be constantly evolving too. Blog design can be tweaked. But a good a lesson in choosing a blog name that can grow with you!

For the month of march I'm going to be entering that dark place where the technically-able reside, fumbling my way from one blogging platform to another, hoping to emerge with the blog equivalent of a butterfly, or at least a Spanish Moon Moth.

See you in April. In the mean time what I'd really like to know is....

Why do you f#%$ing love sewing?

26 February 2014


Kookai top // me-made skirt // Abode necklace // Thrift store heels //  hair unruly by nature  

Gotta love a skirt that goes forever...

...but doesn't take forever! 
Presenting Gabriola...the freshest and arguably the juiciest sewing pattern to leave the hot little hands of Sewaholic. An on-the-waist, full length skirt with a back zip and hook and bar closures. If you can sew a zip (or you tube how to sew a zip) then you're sweet. Gabriola is a skirt for all seasons (see this perfectly wintery black version) but personally I think she reeks of  icy-poles and lazy summer afternoons. Not unlike my hair, she's wild and windswept and maybe a little unruly. The perfect companion for tank tops and floaty blouses.

If its not already apparent, this pattern is all kind of aaamazing. Some of the details are hard to see in this fabric but check out the technical drawing for a good look. Basically the front and back 'yoke' of the skirt are made up of lots of intersecting pieces. And not just random shapes but thoughtfully drafted thigh-caressing, hip-skimming leg-elongating pieces.

The specs:
Fabric // confetti viscose from Tessuti Fabrics
Sizing // Sewaholic patterns are known for lovingly accommodating the pear shaped among us. Being not especially of the pear shaped variety, I took extra care choosing a size knowing that if I went by my waist measurement, the hips would likely be too big. I measured an 8 for the bust and waist, but a 6 for the hips, so I figured if there was some ease in the pattern then I could probably get away with the 6 around the waist and the hips would be a better fit than the 8. The 6 is perfect. No sizing, fitting mods necessary.
Tweaks & tips // To attach the waistband to the inside of the skirt, the instructions call for hand-stitching. I decided to stitch in the ditch because a. I didn't entirely trust that my hand stitching would hold up this drapey but very heavy fabric over time b. I was feeling impatient and c. actually I like the finish it gives, invisible on the outside and still neat on the inside.  Likewise I went for a machine stitched double fold hem, over a hand-stitched one to save time but again because of the fabric.

And lastly, a bit of a weird one is using your machines walking foot for attaching the waistband to the skirt. I found there was heaps of ease here probably from the bias pieces, even though they were stay-stitched.


26 January 2014

The Perfect Pair // Rust Dot Culottes

Just as suddenly as you may find yourself a mum, you may also find yourself required to contort into all sorts of amazing and compromising positions during the course of a day. Most likely you will be retrieving something from the ground, sometimes a child, sometimes a snack, sometimes a child with a snack. Whatever it is, rest assured, said incidence will occur at a. school pick up b. school drop off  c. any place you don't want to hang around with your butt skyward. It is the nature of the beast, there's nothing you can do. But, if you're a moderate to quick learner, you'll only do it, mmm, maybe nine or ten times in a mid thigh skirt / dress.

Until the day you wake up and you realise that you are not the same person you were six short years and a lifetime ago. Clothes that were perfectly comfortable, even practical pre-kids, now fall short, literally. There's been no dramatic change, just a million small ones that has lead to feeling like I'm on the cusp of a new era of dressing. I mean, I don't feel that different than I did at 22, sure I'm a little older, a little wiser, maybe. And there are physical changes, like going from being busty with no hippage to hippy with no bustage. But mostly there feels less of a need to scream sexy from the mountaintops. Sure, I still want to feel attractive but mostly I'm too frickin tired to get to the mountaintops. And if I'm screaming, its probably at my kids to stop fighting in my bed first thing in the morning. Joking, mostly. No, they really do fight in my bed.

One thing I've been noticing, now more than ever, is how important it is to dress for the day. And, in things that allow you to get on with the day. When I get up in the morning and put on something I feel good in, it colors the whole day. I stand up straighter, smile more, take things less to heart, look out for fun, am more productive and, here's the big one...I parent, completely differently. Last year I found dressing for the day challenging. Most of the clothes I sewed, fell into the 'too good' for every day category. I thought maybe I could start celebrating the everyday by breaking out these clothes but then I thought I might cry if Hudson smeared butter chicken on La Sylphide. This year the plan is balance; sewing more every day clothes for the hand-made wardrobe.

 What has all this got to do with shorts? Well, since a day in the life can involve all sorts of weird and wonderful outings / acrobatics it demands a wardrobe to match. And SHORTS are the way forward. The perfect pair can tick ALL the boxes, all two of them: mum friendly and fiercely attractive. This is a fugly shorts free zone, friends. Besides the practicalities, there are a lot of great looking shorts patterns out there that keep getting shoved down the queue by more exciting projects. So I figure, divide and conquer.  I'm aiming to make 4-5 pairs, in the hopes of finding a staple go-to, never-fail shorts pattern for ever more. And where do you start when you want to make yourself some dandy shorts? Here is a list, mostly from independent pattern companies because we love them so...

Fabric // Floaty delicious rayon from here
Size // M (a size up from this version)
Mods // 1.5 inches added to length.

 First up, an oldie but a goodie: After this version, which turned out very very short and haven't been worn much, I've been wanting to another go at the Tania's. The bones are good: the fit is nice, the wide waistband feels secure and the invisible side zip is flattering. Mostly I've been waiting to hoe into this amazing rayon, which is so soft and drapey and delicious and I am sad that it's over but glad it was the Tania's that did it. If you're making the Tania's, you will need something flowy otherwise you'll get poofy. I let the hems hang for a day or two and decided I rather liked them lower and higher in parts. Also because I wished I had cut them another inch longer so places where the hem dropped kind of made up for it. The upshot: I've been wearing them weekly!

15 January 2014

Sewers High

Pattern // Vogue 1247
Fabric // Silk crepe de chine from here.
I know! I know! I said less of the fancy this year. But this is the first of a small backlog of un-photographed garments from last year. I'm enjoying the illusion of being a month ahead so we'll just pretend that I'm super organized and on top of my game okay?! Come the end of January, it'll be back to a top here, a skirt there in between, you know, raising human beings and stuff. This is Vogue 1247 and we are in love. If you're into this sewing thing, then you'd know that's its not every day nor every garment where you're blown away by your own sewing efforts. So when it does happen, its all the more special. The stars align, the sewing gods smile down and it makes perfect sense why you do this thing that you do. Sure, there are bits I wish I'd taken more care with. Its not a perfect garment. But staring doe eyed at the finished top and seeing not too much distinguishing it from ready-to-wear is a pretty unbeatable feeling. Like runners high but without the mess.

Ohhhh wait, back up. That was from three feet away. If we zoom in closer, you'd notice the front pieces don't quite intersect at the same point and the shoulder pleats are different widths. I am coming-to-terms-with-being-okay-with-tolerating a few dodgy bits in the face of mostly overall magnificence. Progress Not Perfection. The pleaty problem may have something to do with using broken off chunks of tailors chalk as a marking tool. Since marking vital things like darts and pleats with a thick blurry line, does not make for precise sewing. I've since acquired some chalk pencils. As for the front section where all the triangular pieces intersect, well, I got excited about finishing and ignored the creeping feeling that there may have been some important markings I really should go back and check. So no, the front pieces didn't line up and consequently ate 1/2 inch from each side. Anyway, everything was and is okay. But good foresight in choosing a print that hides all manner of sins.

I feel like I've had this pattern in the stash forever. Actually it may have been the virgin 'adult' pattern purchase. I fell a bit in love with Sallieoh's version and then discovered some of its beautiful cousins, see Closet Case Files, Crab and Bee, Cloth Habit. Now if, like me, you're a girl that likes your tops a bit slouchy, with interesting details (a geometric pieced front section), a mid length sleeve and some cuff action then this one's for you. Best of all, are the finishes. The pattern has french seams, a bias finished neckline and faced sleeves. Things I never used to give a shit about, but am coming to appreciate, deeply.

So, the reason I've been balking for so long is sizing issues among reviewers. The main complaint being it runs extremely large. But now I feel I've surely caught up on every version ever sewn and blogged plus made my own, hopefully I can shed some light. In Vogue patterns, I usually make a 12. However, for Vogue 1247, if you go to the secret, but not so secret section called 'finished garment measurements' on the pattern itself (thanking Sallieoh for this genius), you will find that you can easily size down at least one or two sizes and still end up with a loose fitting top instead of a sloppy ill fitting top. But if its a poncho your heart desires then who I am to judge. Now, if you'd sat me down and said Sophie, you probably should muslin that front section, I would have told you where to go. I figured the best chance for a decent sizing guestimate was measuring and re-measuring and trying on roughly pinned pattern pieces until I felt fairly confident. I sized down two whole sizes to an 8. To keep some length I added approx 3/8" in length and cut the sleeves to the size 10 length. The sleeves could be longer but overall the fit is ace.

The other potential pitfall here is depth of the v-neck . I like cleavage as much as the next person but on a top like this its more like gape-age. On the size 8 the V is fine, but only just. If I'd made even the 10, or the 12, I may legally have had to place warning signs: Beware the chasm! And slightly beware, the bias sleeve facings, which threatened to pull every which and curl up while attaching to the sleeves. This part was actually the most challenging and I'm hoping it will be less so in a cotton voile, for no.2. So really there are only a couple of things but nothing significant enough to be put off making a second one and hopefully no-one off a first one!